Home>Feature>Murphy non-profit raised $6.7 million, most of it from unions

Gov. Phil Murphy. Photo by Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe.

Murphy non-profit raised $6.7 million, most of it from unions

NJEA super PAC contributed $4.5 million; law firms with state work also made big contributions

By David Wildstein, September 12 2019 4:03 pm

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A non-profit group tied to Gov. Phil Murphy says it has raised more than $6.7 million, including $4.5 million from the New Jersey Education Association and $560,000 from the Communications Workers of America.

New Direction New Jersey, a 501(c)4 group run by three of Murphy’s political advisors, reported contributions of $350,000 from Local 32BJ SEIU and $300,000 from a foundation connected  to the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) for the organization, which has run television and digital ads in support of the governor’s agenda.

Two politically influential law firms who have received state contracts under Murphy were also generous donors: DeCotiis, Fitzpatrick, Cole & Giblin gave $200,000 and Sills Cummis & Gross, which was hired by the governor’s office to conduct an independent investigation into the hiring of Al Alvarez, contributed $10,000.

Murphy has said that he actively raised money for the group.

Other donors include the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and the United Food and Commercial Workers, which each contributed $100,000.  McManimon, Scotland and Bauman, a law firm that serves as bond counsel for numerous government entities, also gave $100,000.

New Direction NJ received donations from GP Management ($200,000), B.A.C. Administrative District Council of NJ PAC ($50,000), Bayada Home Health Care ($50,000), Samsung Electronics ($50,000), Amalgamated Transit Union ($40,000), and the Utility and Transportation Contractors Association ($25,000).

Public Strategies Impact, a Trenton lobbying firm, contributed $7,500.

Two construction companies also made large contributions: Earle Asphalt and G.R. Robertson, each contributed $25,000.  Real Estate developers Evan and Greg Karzhevsky gave a combined $17,000.  PKF O’Connor Davies, an accounting firm, donated $25,000.

A smaller contribution, $5,000, came from Lyft, the ride-share company.

New Direction New Jersey had initially pledged voluntarily release their donors at the end of 2018, but then decided against it.

A spokesman for the group attributed the change of heart to “the toxic political environment.”  The Legislature passed a law mandating the release of dark money donors, which Murphy vetoed.

Later, in a deal to avoid an override of his veto, Murphy agreed to sign a new bill that was largely identical to the one he had rejected.

“New Direction NJ is dedicated to a simple, yet powerful, idea: to build a stronger and fairer economy for every New Jersey family,” said Philip Swibinski, a New Directions NJ spokesman.  “In doing so, we have successfully reached millions of New Jerseyans with powerful messaging about the changes we must make to build an economy that works for the middle class, not the special interests and those already at the very top.”

The list of donors did not include the dates of the contributions.

The teacher’s union contribution came through their super PAC, Garden State Forward.

“New Direction NJ has played a valuable role in presenting a progressive vision to people throughout our state and showing a better way forward for New Jersey,” said NJEA president Marie Blistan.  “We will continue to work closely with this organization and others that share our members’ values to advocate for policies that benefit our members and all middle-class workers.”

Hetty Rosenstein, the CWA State Director, said that her union has spent the last 30 years supporting a progressive vision for New Jersey, citing a commitment to “economic fairness for workers, a fair tax policy, health care and retirement security for all, responsible gun safety, and good and honest government. We have long supported organizations that share our progressive agenda.”

“We have long supported organizations that share our progressive agenda,” said Rosenstein. “We are proud to support Governor Murphy’s vision and New Direction NJ and we look forward to supporting it in the future.”

New Direction NJ Donors September 2019
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